JACKSON, Miss. – Two young white men were looking for a black man to assault in Mississippi's largest city when one of them ran over a 49-year-old African-American with a pickup truck after he had been assaulted, killing the man, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
James Anderson was run over by a Ford pickup outside a Jackson hotel near dawn on June 26 and died later in hospital, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said during a bond hearing for Deryl Dedmon, who is accused of driving the truck.
Dedmon and John Aaron Rice, both 18 are also accused of assaulting Anderson before he was run down. Both are charged with murder in Anderson's death.
"It was an intentional act and it was a hate crime," the prosecutor said.
Judge Ali Shamsiddeen increased Dedmon's bail to $800,000 from $50,000 after he heard more details about the hate crime allegations. Dedmon, who had looked ahead intently during the hearing, lowered his head when the higher bond was announced. He was put in handcuffs after the hearing and taken away as some people who accompanied him to court wiped away tears.
"Dedmon murdered this victim because he was a black man," Smith said. "We do have information that they were rejoicing after killing the victim."
Smith said Dedmon called a friend after the alleged crime and said, "I just ran that nigger over."
The hate crime allegations resonated in Mississippi, which long had a history for racial violence against blacks, particularly during the civil rights struggle.
Dedmon's attorney, Lee Agnew, said during court that he's seen nothing to back up the "racial allegations." Agnew had no comment after the hearing.
Dedmon, a thin teen with blond hair, shook his head from side-to-side when Smith questioned a police detective and suggested that Anderson had been run over several times.
Anderson was run over in a part of Jackson known for drug activity, though an attorney for his relatives said the case had nothing to do with drugs. Dedmon was arrested later that morning after being pulled over on Interstate 20. Witnesses provided police with a description of the truck and authorities were looking for it.
There were two teenage girls in the truck with Dedmon, Smith said. He would not say if the girls will face charges.
Det. William Waples testified that one of the girls first told police it was an accident and that Dedmon tried to go around Anderson, but he said she later changed her story.
Rice and others at the scene left in a different vehicle, Smith said.
A woman who identified herself as Rice's mother, but didn't give her name when contacted by phone, said her son wasn't in the truck with Dedmon. "My son was not even in that vehicle. My son is innocent." She referred calls to attorney Marc Brand, who did not immediately respond to a message left after hours.
Winston Thompson, an attorney representing Anderson's family, said they were pleased Dedmon's bond was increased. He had been free on the $50,000 bond.
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